Now that Guilds of Ravnica is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about constructed play. Although Guilds brought us a number of very powerful cards, or cards that currently seem mediocre but have incredible potential, it can be difficult to know where to begin with deck brewing and to know which cards are of sufficient quality to build around. This article discusses the three best cards from Guilds of Ravnica for the standard format, in no particular order, and suggests some effective ways to build decks that incorporate these cards. If you’re looking for a starting point for deck creation in new standard, or you’re just looking for powerful cards to include in existing archetypes, these three cards offer an incredible opportunity to help fill the power vacuum of the cycling sets.
In many ways, Pelt Collector could be a format defining card, serving both as a creature that compliments other mechanics and also as the backbone of a deck itself. As a 1/1 for only one mana, Pelt Collector is an efficiently costed creature with a huge upside; the creature comes down early and continues to scale into the late game, receiving a +1/+1 counter each time a creature comes into play under your control that has higher power than Pelt Collector. What makes this card extraordinary, however, is the fact that it also gets a counter if a creature you control with power greater than Pelt Collector dies, meaning that even if you draw and play Pelt Collector after you’ve casted a number of other creatures, it still has the potential to grow rapidly. As though it needed more abilities, Pelt Collector also gains trample as long as it has three or more counters. The overall value of this card is hard to overstate, and it could conceivably go in a number of different decks. The most obvious home for Pelt Collector is a mono-green aggro deck that would love to play Pelt Collector turn one to put on early pressure and would not be disappointed to draw it late. Additionally, a slower black-green deck might use Pelt Collector to gain additional benefits from sacrificing creatures, but also have the option of putting early pressure on slower decks. In any case, Pelt Collector represents insane value for its cost, and as long as you can keep it away from the vicious weaponry of Chainwhirler it can easily win games by itself.
Although we lost Fatal Push, those in search of cheap removal will be excited to find it has been replaced with Assassin’s Trophy. An instant for one green and one black, Assassin’s Trophy destroys any permanent your opponent controls, including lands. Although your opponent gets to find a basic land afterwards and put it into play, the overall power of this spell is incredibly high. Because of its low casting cost, Assassin’s Trophy takes care of impactful early game threats while also serving to unconditionally destroy any high-octane bomb your opponent plays late. Also, because Assassin’s Trophy stipulates it can destroy any permanent, it has more versatility than any other removal in the format, with the ability to target everything from a game-winning enchantment to a flipped Azcanta. Virtually every deck running these colors wants to include some number of Assassin’s Trophy, and even some decks that weren’t planning on running these colors, such as mono-green, might want to splash to include this card. Even printed at rare instead of mythic, high demand for Assassin’s Trophy is already turning it into the most valuable card in the set, foil versions of which are listed for over $100 dollars on various card sites.
Although I’m sure many readers will initially respond with skepticism, beware: though Dimir Spybug be but little, it is fierce. Dimir Spybug is a 1/1 flyer for two mana, with menace, that additionally receives a +1/+1 counter every time you surveil, one of the new mechanics in Guilds of Ravnica. Similar to Pelt Collector, this allows an efficiently costed creature to be played early and then scale into the late game, however unlike Pelt Collector Dimir Spybug is not a card that can simply be added to a myriad of decks to increase an overall power level. Instead, Dimir Spybug needs a very specific deck to be useful, one that carefully balances cards that surveil in order to put counters on the Spybug, and also cards that support and protect it. Once put in the correct shell, however, of synergistic cards such as Doom Whisperer and Nightveil Sprite, Dimir Spybug can quickly dominate games, posing an ever-growing threat that achieves evasion both through flying and menace. Combine that with removal or counter-magic, and this card can win games quickly and consistently.
As you develop a deck in the new standard format, you’ll likely want to test various card combinations to see what works well together and what best enables your own unique playstyle. These cards, however, deserve special attention, and will likely come to define the format for the months to follow. On a side note, Guilds of Ravnica is a really fun set to play in limited too, so grab a booster box, draft with your friends, and hope to open some of these amazing cards.